8 Nov 2006

Voting in absentia

filed under: journal  :: elections  :: expat life  :: usa

For the last major U.S. elections, in 2004, I made sure to be in my home state of New York to cast my vote, even though it was fairly sure that my one vote would not make a difference in the outcome. New York was never going to vote for George Bush.

Still, it felt good to go to the local fire station with my sister and do the deed.

This year, I knew I couldn't make it to the U.S. in November, and I didn't bother to make the effort to vote in absentia. I feel a bit guilty about this but I knew that again, my district on Long Island, The Senate seat was safe for Hillary, my Congresswoman won by a big margin, and I don't care much about state senate races beyond whether they are doing a good job. The problem with voting overseas is that your vote gets counted (or so they say) weeks after the election results have been declared. You sort of feel out of it by then. Of course, if any critical races had been in question or I'd been in a state or district with a swing vote, I would have made that effort.

Watching the coverage of the U.S. elections from Europe is an interesting business. A lot of focus is put in the Swiss news for instance on the voting machine glitches (Switzerland doesn't have voting machines, but counts votes with bank note counting machines). I can almost feel a lot of people willing the Democrats to do well. George Bush is not a popular guy outside of the U.S., to put it mildly.

I try to avoid political debates in most cases, but with non-Americans in particular. I pretend ignorance. I cannot possibly explain the complexities of why people vote or think certain ways. I cannot explain a whole country.

Comments on this post:

Actually I'm still...

Actually I'm still a resident of NY State (and yes I pay all local/federal taxes, etc.)... I go back and forth a lot bet. Europe and the U.S. Not sure if I'll ever abandon a U.S. base though who knows how that will go in the future.

Does New York allow voting

Does New York allow voting in non-federal elections if you live long-term overseas? Most states don't, although the details vary. It often comes down to whether you "intend" to return to that state to live permanently in the future. That's what California's rule is. Maryland just out and out doesn't allow you to vote for local candidates if you're living out of the country, unless it's on a limited term overseas work contract for a U.S. company.

I like that last sentence,

I like that last sentence, my sentiment exactly.

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